Design thinking: how to gain traction on internal ideas.

Take a moment and think about the amount of times you’ve heard something like the following:

  • “Good luck getting that through compliance.”
  • “That’ll take forever and compliance will just shoot it down anyway.”
  • “Even if we had the budget, we’d never get buy-in all the way up.”

In highly-regulated industries (such as finance and healthcare), it’s easy for people to get stuck playing it safe with marketing and the digital user experience. The key to innovating on a new idea with buy-in all the way up to the C-level and compliance is to INVOLVE them in the process. Everyone loves expressing themselves and being heard, and facilitating an environment to do so gives everyone in the organization a sense of ownership. Here are some quick (1 hour or less) breakouts you can run to get more traction for your ideas. You only need space to meet and a whiteboard (I love the 3M poster-size post-its for these, as well)

How to get ideas and feedback early

Phase 1: Concept Poster (30 minutes)

  1. Introduce an idea: Give the group a quick synopsis on the concept you want to explore (this could be an upcoming project or challenge you’re trying to overcome)
  2. Split up: divide the team into groups of 2-3 people — make sure to make each team as diverse as possible: include members of development, executives, and designers in each group. It helps reduce executive bias.
  3. Concept: have each team design a poster ( full size is great, but even a sheet of paper will work for this) around the concept. Each team should be focusing on ways to illustrate the concept / solution. Make sure to include a short summary of the larger idea, all stakeholders, a timeline for developing the solution. Finally, have each team come up with a name for their concept. Taglines help, too.
  4. Give a 2-minute warning
  5. Display and rapid-fire presentations: Have each team hang their posters on the wall and take turns presenting each concept (1 minute each)

Phase 2: Rose/Bud/Thorn Feedback (15 minutes)

  1. Bring participants back together
  2. Give everyone a set of post-it notes (it helps if you can have 3 colors) and a marker: solicit one piece of feedback per post-it.
  3. One set of post-its will be for positive feedback (rose)
  4. One set will be for challenge feedback (thorn)
  5. One set will be for opportunities (bud) — these can be ways to make an idea even better, or possible long-term benefits
  6. Have participants start by writing at least one of each for concepts other than their own.

Phase 3: Critique (15 minutes)

  1. Have the groups stay together around their Rose / Bud / Thorn poster
  2. Starting with the first group to present, ask the following:
    1. What do you like about your concept? Share your Roses
    2. What challenges do you face? Share the Thorns
    3. Ask the group to build on their original idea, incorporating the buds and adding to them.
  3. Collect feedback for around 5 minutes before moving on to the next team
  4. Thank all the teams, and make sure to take pictures of each poster.